Hillhouse Student Named Gates Scholar

Melissa Bailey PhotoWhen Makiyah McArthur leaves Hillhouse High to pursue her dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon, she won’t have to worry about paying her tuition bills.

Makiyah (pictured), a senior at James Hillhouse High School, was one of 1,000 students to win a Gates Millennium Scholars grant, the school board announced at its meeting Monday at Hill Regional Career High School. The grant targets talented minority students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Makiyah will be able to use it to pay for Hollins University as well as for graduate school.

In an appearance before the school board, Makiyah said her inspiration to become a surgeon comes from personal experience. She lost three siblings to sickle cell anemia.

“She has taken those challenges and turned them into inspiration, which is what so many students do every day,” Superintendent Garth Harries said.

“I just wanted to congratulate you, to tell you how proud I am of you, and how I expect you to come back and work at Yale-New Haven Hospital,” Mayor Toni Harp told her.

“Something like this has never happened to me. This scholarship makes me feel like I’m somebody. I feel so blessed to be able to go to college,” Makiyah said in a prepared statement.

The school board Monday also recognized Odia Kane (pictured), a junior at Engineering & Science University Magnet Schools, who was named one of “40 Women for the Next 40 Years” by the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. Odia, a poised speaker, has won awards from the Connecticut Debate Association and Yale Model United Nations. She has self-published two novels.

Board member Che Dawson asked her for advice on what he could tell his young daughters so they can grow up to be like her.

“You need to be comfortable within yourself and know the worth you have as a human being, and as a female,” he said.

“These students exemplify – in both academic achievement and spirit – what it means to rise,” said Harries in a statement. “I congratulate Makiyah and Odia on setting high expectations for pushing themselves to achieve. Their hard work, passion for learning and determination to persevere inspire all of us and will serve them well in life.”

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posted by: darnell on April 29, 2014  3:08pm


posted by: connecticutcontrarian on April 29, 2014  3:21pm

this is fantastic news. congratulations to these two young women and their families

posted by: Elm City Resident on April 30, 2014  8:24am

Inspiring—thank you for writing this story!

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on April 30, 2014  11:01am


posted by: Tell The Truth on April 30, 2014  3:53pm

This is great news!  These two young ladies have really set the bar for our youth.  With so much attention being placed on the hooligans, it’s refreshing to see this in the media. I was at the BOE meeting and saw these two young ladies in person!  I am with Mayor Harp when she asked that they return with their talents to the city in the future.